Long and skinny, with an extensive coastline providing some of the best seafood in the world, Chile covers a lot of ground, with the driest desert in the world (the Atacama) in the north and the rain-is-always-possible temperate Valdivian rainforest which leads into Chilean Patagonia. Continental Chile falls into a long string of islands about two thirds of the way down, accessible by a system of ferries and unpaved roads taking visitors through some of the most untouched land in the world.
Santiago is where 7 million of the more than 16 million Chileans live, a fast-paced city with a modern metro, lots of throwback traditions with hand-lettered signs and marketers selling fruits and vegetables in one of the city's many open-air markets, and a large, Virgin Mary-topped hill that overlooks it all.
For the love of all that's Chilean, check out Matador's articles on Chile on about how to celebrate the Fiestas Patrias (national holiday), food, including the can't miss completo, a Chilean spin on the hotdog, where to see penguins and glaciers, the national dance, and more.
Photo: Eileen Smith